We arrived in Munich around four thirty on Saturday, May 24th. I had been sad about leaving Paris, but once we reached Germany I was excited to learn about a new culture and a different way of life, and was it ever different from the Parisians.
Upon arrival we walked from the train station to our hotel, Hotel Bavaria. I was impressed as soon as we walked in the door. We quickly got checked in and went up to our room. Compared to our Paris room, it was huge!
After checking in to the hotel, we ventured out for our first meal in Munich. Our hotel receptionist suggested a Bavarian restaurant a few blocks away. If the French cafés are refined and sophisticated, then the Bavarian beer halls are the complete opposite. We arrived at Augustiner Braustuben on a Saturday night and it was rowdy! As we entered, we were seated at a long wooden table with two other couples who are also tourists. None of us could speak German, but fortunately there were English menus on hand. We reviewed our menus in the midst of shouting, singing and toast-giving.
"This reminds me of...", I begin.
"A sporting event?" my husband finished my sentence.
Yes. That's exactly what this scene reminded me of. It felt like pre game tailgating before a NFL football game.
Beer is the obvious beverage to order here. The only decision to be made is type and size. There are bachelor and bachelorette parties here too. The bridesmaids are wearing black tshirts with pink lettering but I can't decifer any of the German words.
Our food is served and it's a heavy dose of meat and potatoes with gravy covering the entire plate. It reminds me of "comfort food" my Mom would serve on a cold winter day. After a long day of train travel, it hits the spot. As we leave the beer hall, we buy German chocolate from a girl dressed as a beer maid.
"It's for the groom," she points towards the end of the table. "He's getting married."
We leave a few Euros and take a piece of German chocolate. On the way back to our hotel, we stop to pick up a few more beers at a local store. After filling our stomach's on beer and chocolate, we have a peaceful night's sleep.
The following day after having breakfast in our hotel we decided to visit the old town in Munich. It's within walking distance, so we walk there to see more sites. One of the first stops is in Marienplatz, which is a central square in the middle of Munich. New City Hall is the grandest building in the square. We arrive just in time to hear the bells ringing for noon. Figurines move in the tower while the bells ring out. The sights and sounds remind me of the clocks my Grandfather use to build.
After visiting the square and a neighboring park we visit our second beer hall. This time we visited the famed Hofbrauhaus. As we enter we look for a hostess, but there isn't one and seating seems to be on your own. We walk around the beer hall deciding where to sit. It's huge! We find a table and our waiter quickly brings us a German menu. Bobby and I both have German ancestry, but we don't speak a word of it. In Germany, we were often spoke to in German, and met with perplexed looks when we couldn't respond. We request an English menu.
Table manners aren't necessary here. There's plenty of names carved into our wooden table. Beers are served in only two sizes: a liter and a half liter. I opt for the smaller one and Bobby opts for the larger one.
Beer maids walk around selling the largest pretzels I've ever seen. It's early afternoon here but there's already a band playing and people of all ages are dancing and singing. The mood is decidedly festive not just in the beer halls, but all over Munich. The city is beautiful with many green spaces and parks. It seemed to bustle with construction seen everywhere. Still it seems small and quaint and not yet touristy. In my mind, this makes Munich even more appealing. We only spent two days here but I'm already wanting to come back. Beyond the beer halls there are tours, bike rides and even castles that I would like to visit.
While my memories of Munich will be full of much happiness there will always be an aspect of sadness. Just hours before we departed for our overnight train to Venice, I learned that my Grandmother had passed away. She was 94 years old and had lived a long and happy life, but the news still seemed sudden and shocking. In many ways her influence had inspired me to take this trip to Europe. When Bobby and I would visit her, she often told us stories of living in Spain and Brazil. She also had traveled to fourteen foriegn countries with my Grandfather. That's quite impressive considering her travels took place before computers, cell phones, email and online bookings.
While it was hard to be away from home and receive the news, in some ways it seemed fitting that I was in Germany when I found out. My Grandmother wasn't German, but her husband and my Grandfather was. He passed away in 2002 and she was lonely without him. Many things in Munich reminded me of him: the clocks he would build, the figurines he would carve. Even the Germans random outbreak into singing reminded me of him. It was comforting to have so many things remind me of him, but I was also sad. I had only wished that I would be able to tell her about this trip. But I took comfort in thinking they were reunited again, and watching over Bobby and I as we continued our journey.
In MEMORY OF MY GRANDMOTHER
Author: Sarah Warman
I like to run, take pictures and write. I've combined all three in this blog.